Covers Season 1 episodes 10-26
I have to start off by acknowledging that, like with most sequels, I just didn’t enjoy Battle Tendency quite as much as I did Phantom Blood, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t enjoyable or good. The story is a continuation of Phantom Blood, although it is largely unrelated. It’s a little longer than the first arc but it doesn’t really feel like it comes off the same as the first season, feeling a little bit more like a standard anime/manga plot. Well, standard for a JoJo’s story that is. I don’t know if you can call a show where the main character is fighting ancient super beings alongside Nazis a “standard” plot. The production values of these two story arcs are pretty much the same as well, which makes sense seeing as how they’re both part of season 1 of the anime. In the end, I think me not liking this arc as much has a lot to do with the main protagonist of Battle Tendency, Joseph Joestar.
Joseph (also known as JoJo) is the grandson of Phantom Blood protagonist Jonathan Joestar. However, unlike his grandfather, he is not a gentleman, in fact, he’s pretty far from it. This JoJo grew up in New York City around the 1930’s and is kind of a thug, although he does have a good heart. JoJo was born having the innate ability to control Hamon energy and is also very adept at bluffing and reading his opponents. All of this comes in handy when he goes to investigate the reported death of family friend Robert EO Speedwagon only to end up in a battle with former Hamon master turned vampire, Straizo. Straizo apparently had a deep fear of aging, which led him to covet the powers he had seen Dio wield years before.
The encounter with Straizo leads JoJo to a facility in Mexico where he discovers that there are Nazis working to revive a “Pillar Man”, a man who’s been trapped in a stone pillar for the last 2,000 years or so. These Pillar Men are the ones responsible for creating the Stone Masks like the one Dio used to become a vampire. The Pillar Men prove to be several orders of magnitude stronger than the monsters that they create and can completely obliterate a normal human without even noticing that they made contact with them, but they are still susceptible to sunlight. Upon awakening the first Pillar Man, Santana, wipes out the entire Nazi camp was working to revive him after demonstrating that he won’t be controlled. JoJo arrives in time to face off against him and manages to narrowly prevail. Even though he survives he learns that there is another facility with 3 more Pillar Men.
Before arriving there, he meets up with Speedwagon and Ceasar, the grandson of Will A. Zepelli. Ceasar and JoJo are polar opposites, much in the same way that Dio and the elder JoJo were in the first story arc. The two are pretty much constantly involved in a proverbial dick measuring contest. That is until they run into the 3 remaining Pillar Men and are made to realize their own inabilities. JoJo manages to bluff them out of being killed by the Pillar Men immediately, but that results in him being given a month (30-ish days) to get stronger and come and fight them or else he will be killed by poison implanted into his body.
Ceasar and JoJo go off and train with the Hamon Master, Lisa Lisa. It turns out that Lisa Lisa and the Pillar Men have a significant connection to JoJo’s past but he is unaware of it. Lisa Lisa trains Ceasar and JoJo to better control their Hamon abilities in the time leading up to their shwodown with the Pillar Men. However, during this time the Pillar Men are continuing to search for the “Red Stone of Aja”, which will allow them to overcome their weakness to sunlight and become ultimate life forms. The entire thing escalates into a final battle full of Nazis, cyborgs, vampires, death, chariots, volcanoes, airplanes and a trip into space. If nothing else, Battle Tendency delivers when it comes to creating situations that sound absolutely insane when you say them out loud.
Don’t let my initial statement dissuade you. If you enjoyed the first part of JoJo’s season 1 or you’re a fan of the manga, you will enjoy this adaptation of the 2nd story arc. JoJo’s is still an exercise in ridiculousness and over the top action antics. Even though I preferred 1800’s British JoJo to 1930’s American JoJo, both are adept at using their brains and brawn equally along with a potentially un-healthy dose of “never say die” attitude to get themselves through the truly bizarre situations they find themselves in. The entire story is wrapped up in a great presentation still rich with rock-and-roll references modern music, distinctive animation and action, and a sense of humor to tie it all togeether.